IMF backs $50 billion plan to help world escape Covid crisis
The International Monetary Fund called for a $50 billion spending plan to protect vast swaths of the world against Covid-19 and narrow a gap in access to life-saving vaccines that’s threatening the global economic recovery from the pandemic.
That investment would fund an ambitious effort to immunize at least 40% of the global population by the end of this year and 60% or more by the first half of 2022, the IMF said on Friday. While saving lives, a faster rebound would also deliver a potential $9 trillion economic boost by 2025, the fund estimates.
“Economic recoveries are diverging dangerously,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva wrote in a letter with colleagues outlining the proposal. “The disparities will widen further between wealthy countries that have widespread access to vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics, and poorer countries still struggling to inoculate front-line health-care workers.”
The call adds to pressure on rich countries to step up funding and share doses to battle a virus that is still raging globally even as vaccine rollouts help get the crisis under control at home. Almost half of the U.S. population and 55% of the U.K.’s have received at least one dose, according to Bloomberg’s tracker. Less than 2% of Africa’s population had been vaccinated by the end of April.
How much wealthy governments will increase their support in the coming days and weeks remains unclear. Some countries have obtained far more vaccine than they need, and health advocates say more should be shared with the rest of the world. Covax, the global vaccine initiative, has managed to ship only 68 million of the 2 billion doses it hopes to send out by the end of the year.
Vaccinating billions of people all over the planet requires additional upfront grants to Covax, donations of surplus doses and the free cross-border flow of raw materials and finished products, according to the IMF. Ramping up vaccine production capacity and genomic surveillance are needed to prepare for mutations of the virus and potential supply shocks, it said.
The plan would devote $35 billion in grants to build on the work of the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, the campaign led by the World Health Organization and others. Another $15 billion would come from national governments, potentially supported by facilities created by multilateral development banks.
Achieving those targets depends on increased cooperation between countries that have so far prioritized their own interests. Rich nations must be persuaded to share excess doses and help close a $19 billion funding gap to suppress the virus, Carl Bildt, the special envoy to the Accelerator, said in an interview.
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